Indicted Ukrainian-born businessman Lev Parnas has contradicted his previously reported claim to have spoken with President Donald Trump directly about Ukraine and investigating former Vice President Joe Biden, according to the Washington Examiner.
It’s far from the only credibility problem with Parnas’ recent claims about the president and other administration officials, however, yet much of the media continues to latch on to his every utterance to further the “we’ve got him now” narrative against President Trump.
CNN reported in November that Parnas told acquaintances that he spoke directly to President Trump in December 2018 about efforts to get Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.
“At one point during the party that night, Parnas and Fruman slipped out of a large reception room packed with hundreds of Trump donors to have a private meeting with the President and Giuliani, according to two acquaintances in whom Parnas confided right after the meeting,” CNN reported. There, Trump allegedly discussed with Parnas “‘a secret mission’ to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter.”
Contradicting this report, the New York Times reported Wednesday that “Parnas said that although he did not speak with Mr. Trump about the efforts, he met with the president on several occasions and was told by Mr. Giuliani that Mr. Trump was kept in the loop.”
Parnas “will say anything”
The White House has unequivocally dismissed Parnas’ claims as baseless and without merit. Press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement, “These allegations are being made by a man who is currently out on bail for federal crimes and is desperate to reduce his exposure to prison. The facts haven’t changed — the president did nothing wrong and this impeachment, which was manufactured and carried out by the Democrats has been a sham from the start.”
Parnas had also alleged that Vice President Mike Pence was involved in the supposed conspiracy involving Ukraine, which was similarly brushed off by Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short. “This is very simple: Lev Parnas is under a multi-count indictment and will say anything to anybody who will listen in hopes of staying out of prison,” Short said. “It’s no surprise that only the liberal media is listening to him.”
“A fantastical tale”
Likewise, the basic fundamentals of Parnas’ claims were also called into question by Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberly Strassel during an appearance on Fox News on Thursday. “The problem … for the media is that this goes beyond the question of Lev Parnas’ credibility,” Strassel said, adding that “the information that he claims to impart is irrelevant or unbelievable.”
“He claims to suggest that he knows what was going through Donald Trump’s mind. What [Attorney General] Bill Barr knew? What [Vice President] Mike Pence knew?” she continued. “Look, we’ve got people who are far closer to the president than Lev Parnas who would not … seek to make that claim. So this is just sort of a fantastical tale.”
“Serious credibility problems”
Even CNN anchor Jake Tapper cautioned his fellow liberal journalists to exhibit some caution before believing every claim put forward by Parnas, according to Newsweek. Tapper said on his show on Thursday that Parnas has “serious credibility problems” and aptly noted, “He’s under indictment for campaign finance charges. The foreign minister of Ukraine told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that he doesn’t trust a word Parnas is saying.”
The CNN host was also highly critical of “people out there on social media — Democrats,” who were “acting as if this guy is the second coming of Theodore Roosevelt or something.”
He later noted that the vast majority of Parnas’ claims were just a reiteration of what was already known from the July 25 phone call transcript and various testimony from the impeachment inquiry hearings, with a few difficult-to-verify anecdotes and references thrown into the mix.